Hello all! Sports Mole
's live Euro 2016
qualification coverage continues this evening as Luxembourg
welcome Spain in Group C. Both of these teams enter the match off the back of defeats, with Luxembourg losing against Macedonia and Spain losing in Slovakia. Right, before anything else, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news.
Luxembourg: Joubert; Chanot, Janisch, Jans, Phillips; Gerson, Martins, Mutsch, Holter; Da Mota, Bensi
Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Bartra, Alba; Busquets, Koke; Iniesta, Silva; Alcacer, Costa
No real surprises in the home side's XI this evening, with Daniel da Mota and Stefano Bensi once again paired in attack. There are also starts for Lars Gerson and Christopher Martins, who currently represents French side Lyon. Mario Mutsch, meanwhile, will captain the team from midfield.
The big news for Spain is that David de Gea comes into the team in place of under-fire goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Marc Bartra also starts at centre-back in place of Raul Albiol, while Paco Alcacer
starts in attack alongside Diego Costa
. Cesc Fabregas is the midfielder that misses out as a result. Dani Carvajal, meanwhile, is called into the side in place of Juanfran. Some bold selections from Vicente del Bosque!
In total, these two sides have met on four previous occasions and it will not come as much of a surprise that Spain have won each of those matches. That said, two of those wins were 1-0 and Luxembourg have conceded just seven times in the course of those friendly defeats – a decent enough record.
Their most recent meeting came in 2000, when Spain were 1-0 winners. Interestingly, now Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz featured as a player in that particular match, where Gaizka Mendieta struck the winner. However, it would be fair to say that much has changed at the two teams since then!
Luxembourg opened their Group C campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Belarus last month, but they were beaten 3-2 by Macedonia on Thursday. With all respect, it would be a minor miracle if they qualified from this section, especially with upcoming games against Ukraine and Slovakia.
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In fact, Luxembourg have never qualified for a major international tournament. That said, they have shown in recent matches that they can compete at this level. Indeed, they held Italy to a 1-1 draw in a friendly in June. They will need to be at their very best and catch Spain on an off-day if they are to enjoy a similar result this evening.
Mentioning off-days for Spain, well they had one on Thursday. They went into their match with Slovakia having won their previous 14 qualifying away games since a 1-1 draw with Iceland in September 2007. In total, they had a record of 36 unbeaten qualifiers. However, that came to an end when they lost 2-1 in Zilina last week. The pressure is certainly on Del Bosque's side to produce this evening.
In truth, La Roja did dominate their clash with Slovakia and looked to have secured a late point when Alcacer finished from close range. However, the home side had not finished and Miroslav Stoch struck late on to send Slovakia top of the group with two wins from two matches.
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Spain, however, are still expected to qualify from this section. In total, they have won the European Championships on three occasions – 1974, 2008 and 2012. They have also won 17 of their last 20 matches at the finals of the European Championships, including all eight at the 2012 competition.
They have only once won the World Cup, but have been to every tournament since 1974. This summer was a big disappointment for La Roja though, with Del Bosque's side crashing out in the group stages of the competition, losing to both Netherlands and Chile in the process.
There is now serious pressure on the Spain team as a whole. That includes Del Bosque, who has been criticised for certain aspects of his team selection. That said, La Roja still have one of the most talented squads in world football and a number of sensational up-and-coming youngsters.
Spain will also take heart from Luxembourg's recent home record, which is very disappointing. They have won just one of their last six competitive home matches, losing three times in the process. Their solitary win came against Northern Ireland during qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
That said, Spain have lost four of their last six matches in all competitions. Two of those defeats came at the World Cup, while they were also beaten by France in a friendly last month. Add in the Slovakia result and it is certainly a testing time for the reigning European champions.
Also meeting tonight in Group C are Belarus and Slovakia, with the latter attempting to make it three wins from three matches. Earlier today, Ukraine beat Macedonia 1-0 to open up the group even more. Spain don't have to win this evening, but they need to remain in touch at this stage.
PREDICTION: In truth, I am finding it very difficult to make a case for the home team this evening. Spain are not in the best place, but I am expecting a serious response from La Roja tonight. My score prediction is 3-0 Spain, with Costa bagging his first international goal.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. Once the national anthems have been completed, we will just about be ready to proceed!
Just a reminder that these two sides have met on four previous occasions and Spain have won each of those matches. Can Luxembourg cause a big shock this evening? I have my doubts.
The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. It must be said that there is a brilliant atmosphere as the home side get the first period underway.
As expected, Spain have taken control of the possession in the opening couple of minutes, with each member of their back four enjoying touches of the ball. Iniesta attempts to feed a pass into the feet of Costa, but the striker immediately has three defenders around him and the danger is cleared.
Costa wants a penalty as the Spain striker drives into the box before rounding Joubert and falling to the ground, but the referee awards a corner rather than a spot kick. Spain remain in control of the possession, with the home side settling into a defensive shape and hoping to play on the counter.
Bensi attempts to break into a forward position for the home side, but the striker had just moved into an offside area at the vital moment. Moments later, Bartra takes too long on the ball inside the Spain half, but Holter brings the defender to the ground. Sharp work from the hosts thus far.
It is almost like a training match in the early moments as Spain continue to dominate the ball in the final third, but they are finding it difficult to break through. Much the same as the Slovakia match! However, the visitors have started with more pace and intent in the final third of the field.
There is a strange atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment, with the home supporters not making too much noise, which was not the case before kickoff. The referee has been forced into making a number of decisions, meanwhile, due to the feistiness in the middle of the park.
Spain have a free kick in an advanced position as Da Mota brings Koke to the ground. Silva delivers onto the head of Costa, but his header is high of the crossbar. Unlucky.
Another half-chance for the away side as Koke meets a loose ball inside the box, but Joubert is on hand to make a very smart save. It is all Spanish pressure, but still no goals thus far.
Costa collects a through pass from Silva before driving into the home side's box, but the ball just runs away from the striker at the vital moment and Luxembourg regain possession. The home side are down the other end with Janisch moments later, but Busquets is across to challenge the defender.
Iniesta is next to come close for Spain after combining with Silva outside the box, but his effort is high and wide of the crossbar. The home side really need to find a way to ease this pressure.
Costa is again involved as the striker turns and fires on goal just inside the box, but Joubert makes the save. Is this going to be the night for the Chelsea forward? Surely!
CHANCE! Just about Costa's best chance of the evening as the Spain forward drives into the Luxembourg box before firing one towards the bottom corner, but his effort is wide of the post. That is two or three good chances for the 25-year-old in this match.
It is all a little bit too easy for Spain, especially in possession of the ball, but they are finding it difficult to break through the final line of defence. That said, the home team are offering very little in the final third and that is allowing the champions to push forward. Costa has another half-chance for the visitors after combining with Alcacer, but once more the striker fires high and wide of the crossbar.
Alcacer is next to try his luck for Spain after finding some space outside the box, but his effort is wide of the post. Spain are shooting on sight at the moment. New policy?!
CHANCE! Yep, Costa again! The striker collects a loose ball inside the home side's box, but his powerful effort is straight at Joubert. There goes another opportunity.
GOAL! Luxembourg 0-1 Spain (Silva)
Good grief that is a little bit special! Spain take the lead with 27 minutes on the clock as Silva arrows one into the top corner from outside the box. Sensational strike from the Man City attacker.
You just get the feeling that the home team could be in a bit of trouble now. Spain have their goal and will now look for put this one to bed before the interval. Luxembourg have to hang in there.
Martins does his best to drive the home team forward, but the midfielder runs into Bartra, who brings the ball clear. Costa finds some room inside the Luxembourg box moments later, but Joubert manages to claim at the vital moment. Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining here.
Luxembourg finally register a shot on goal as Bensi turns inside the Spain box before firing towards the bottom corner, but De Gea is on hand to make the save with ease.
CHANCE! WOW! Costa has just missed an absolute sitter. The striker breaks the offside trap before driving into the home side's box, but he curls his effort wide of the post under no pressure. How on earth has he missed? Still no international goal for the Chelsea forward!
Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining and you just get the feeling that the home team cannot afford to concede a second, or they will be in serious trouble.
CHANCE! Alcacer comes close to adding Spain's second after meeting a flick from Costa, but the Valencia forward fires wide of the near post. Spain should be out of sight.
The home side have a set piece in a forward area as Jans is brought to the ground by Bartra. The resulting free kick is delivered towards De Gea, but the goalkeeper punches clear. The pressure continues as Martins delivers, but once more the danger is cleared. Good defending from the visitors.
Another piece of good goalkeeping from De Gea as the Spain stopper tips a dipping cross from Da Mota over the crossbar. It has been a good couple of minutes for the Manchester United man.
It has been a good spell from the home side in the last couple of minutes, but each of their crosses into the box have been gobbled up by De Gea. Not too much from Spain as an attacking threat in the latter moments of the half, but they are in complete control of proceedings here.
GOAL! Luxembourg 0-2 Spain (Alcacer)
Spain have their second in the latter stages of the half as Silva feeds Alcacer, who spins and finds the bottom corner with a brilliant finish. Excellent work from the Valencia youngster.
BOOKING! Holter is booked for the home side following a late challenge on Costa.
HALF-TIME: Luxembourg 0-2 Spain
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with Spain leading 2-0 courtesy of goals from Silva and Alcacer. In truth, the away side should be out of sight at this stage - they have utterly dominated proceedings. Costa's search for his first Spain goal, however, continues!
STATS! As touched upon, Spain have dominated possession with 68% of the ball, while they have had 12 attempts, five of which have been on target. The home side, meanwhile, have had three attempts on target. Only one booking has been issued despite some feisty challenges.
BENCH WATCH! The home side have a number of attacking options on their bench this evening in the shape of Martins, Payal and Turpel. Spain, meanwhile, have an embarrassment of riches as usual, with Cazorla, Fabregas, Garcia, Pedro and Rodrigo among those available.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second 45 minutes. Can Luxembourg cause Spain any damage? Let's wait and see as Spain get the second period underway.
No changes for either side at the interval, which is not all that surprising. However, I suspect that both managers will consider alterations over the next 20 minutes or so. As expected, the visitors have taken control of the possession in the early stages of the second half.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the early stages of the second period, but Spain are in complete control. Alcacer attempts to break into the home side's box following good work from Iniesta, but the ball runs away from the striker at the final moment and Joubert regains possession of the ball.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last couple of moments, with the weather contributing to some untidy challenges in the middle of the park. The rain is absolutely lashing down at the moment. However, Spain remain in control of the possession as the home side continue to drop deep.
CHANCE! Spain come close to their third as Iniesta drives to the edge of the box before curling one towards goal, but his effort just moved high of the crossbar.
CHANCE! The home side have a rare chance to threaten from a corner following good work from Bensi. The set piece is delivered into Chanot, but his header is just wide of the post. Much better from Luxembourg, but they still look shaky down the other end each time Spain break.
Little over 30 minutes of this contest remaining and neither manager has looked to their bench thus far. In truth, Spain are comfortable and could afford to hand minutes to a number of their squad players. Luxembourg, meanwhile, will be keen for as many players to face Spain as possible.
Iniesta has a half-chance for Spain after good work from Alba, but his effort is blocked by Jans. Alcacer collects the follow-up, but his effort is also blocked.
Martins wants a free kick as the Luxembourg midfielder falls just outside the Spain box, but the referee is not interested and instead penalises the midfielder for a trip on Bartra. No real atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment and the tempo on the field has dropped since the restart.
SUB! The home side make their first change as Turpel replaces Martins.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last few minutes, with Spain untidy in the final third and the home side not willing to commit too many numbers forward.
BOOKING! Costa is booked for a late challenge on Gerson.
There is a really strange atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment. Not too much is happening! The crowd are quiet and that is directly impacting matters on the field. In truth, not too much has happened in the second period, certainly not in terms of chances created or attacking football.
BOOKING! Jans is booked for a late challenge on Spain's Alba.
GOAL! Luxembourg 0-3 Spain (Costa)
Finally it has happened for Costa! The Chelsea forward has his first goal for La Roja after firing in from close range following a mix-up inside the home side's box.
SUBS! Spain make two changes as Bernat and Pedro replace Silva and Iniesta.
You would not back against Spain making it four or five in the latter stages as the home side continue to tire. In truth, Spain have been playing in second gear in the second period.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last couple of minutes, with the referee forced to issue a number of free kicks following a series of clashes in the home side's half of the field.
BOOKING! Pique is booked for a late challenge on Bensi.
SUB! The home side make their second place as Payal replaces Da Mota.
Another half-chance for the visitors as Costa finds some space in a wide area before driving a low cross towards Alcacer, but Jans is on hand to clear. Down the other end, De Gea denies a deflected effort from Bensi. Gerson meets the resulting corner, but heads high and wide of the crossbar.
The home side have just started to enjoy more of the ball in the final third, but they are struggling to find that elusive pass at the vital moment. I would be surprised if we had seen the last of the goals in this match, especially with both sides prepared to commit numbers forward at this stage.
Alcacer again finds himself in the home side's box following a brilliant pass from Bartra, but the forward had just moved too soon, with the flag raised. Both sides have one permitted change remaining and it seems that Rodrigo could be handed his competitive debut by Vicente del Bosque.
SUB! Indeed the change is made as Costa is replaced by Rodrigo.
CHANCE! Spain come close to a fourth as Busquets meets a corner from the left, but his header is just high of the crossbar. Joubert came to collect, but got nowhere near it.
The home side have another sight of goal as Holter strikes one from outside the box, but De Gea is on hand to make the save. It has been a steady night for De Gea, who was preferred to Casillas this evening.
SUB! The home side make their final change as Deville replaces Mutsch.
GOAL! Luxembourg 0-4 Spain (Bernat)
The away side have their fourth as Rodrigo sets up Bernat, who finishes into the bottom corner from close range. The two debut boys combine in the final third!
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes.
Possession football from Spain in the latter stages of this contest, with the home side just waiting for the final whistle. It has been a very professional performance from the European champions this evening.
FULL-TIME: Luxembourg 0-4 Spain
So there we have it. That is much more like it for Spain, who return to winning ways with a 4-0 victory over Luxembourg. The result has moved La Roja into second spot in Group C. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!